Now or Never

CLEMSON – In the most simplistic of terms, it's now or never for the Clemson basketball team. Either the Tigers do well over their next five games or they stay home for the postseason. <BR><BR> It's as simple as that. <br>

And it all starts with a 1:30 p.m. game Saturday against N.C. State at Littlejohn Coliseum.

"This is a time when we need to go on a little run, especially at home," said Clemson forward Cheyenne Moore. "We need to use our home-court advantage."

After having spent five of their first games on the road, the Tigers (10-9, 1-6 ACC) have four home games and one at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville before traveling Feb. 19 to North Carolina.

But not only are the games as home, they're very winnable. After suiting up against the Wolfpack (12-7, 2-4 ACC), Clemson hosts Maryland, Georgia Tech, Miami and then plays Georgia in Greenville.

"We've got to look at this as this is our chance to bounce back after those tough losses," said Tigers center Sharrod Ford. "We've got to take this and run with it. Those teams are definitely beatable. We've just got to take advantage of it."

N.C. State comes into Saturday's game having struggled all season. The Wolfpack have struggled against poor teams such as Purdue, Manhattan and Louisiana-Lafayette, and only beat Columbia of the Ivy League by 10 points.

In addition, the Wolfpack got drilled by woeful teams in St. John's and West Virginia. Then there are their losses to Miami, Virginia Tech and Florida State.

"These are the real games, right here," Moore said. "If you don't take care of these games, you've pretty much lost the whole season. …

"I hate to say it, but we need to kick them when they're down."

In order to win, Clemson's first priority must be to stop reigning ACC Player of the Year Julius Hodge, who is averaging 18.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

"The real problems I think you face with them is matching up with Julius Hodge," Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said. "You also have to take away their 3(-point shots) and backdoors and you've got to get back in transition."

Last year, the two teams split the home-and-home. And while N.C. State has won six of the last seven games, five of the last nine have been decided by five points or less.

"I think there is (a sense of urgency)," Purnell said. "Anytime you're 1-6, there's urgency. It's a pivotal game. It's an important situation. This is a game that could turn things and get us going." Top Stories